Agenzia Fides report - "We must ensure that by December 2011, the Catholic Church can claim to have made a significant contribution to peace in Africa through interventions that have ensured the peaceful and fair development of about 20 elections which will be held from now until then ". This is what is hoped by His Exc. Mgr. Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, Archbishop of Accra and Treasurer of the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), in his opening speech of the Seminar "The Role of the Church in supporting peaceful and credible elections in Africa". The meeting, which will be held in the capital of Ghana, Accra, from September 12 to 16, was organized by SECAM and Catholic Relief Services (CRS, Caritas U.S.A.).
According to a statement sent to Fides, Mgr. Palmer-Buckle said that the initiative is in line with certain propositions of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the 2009 Synod of Bishops, which stressed the need to work for justice, reconciliation and peace in the African continent.
The Archbishop of Accra, said that over the past three decades, the continent has been plagued by violent and prolonged civil wars. Mgr. Palmer-Buckle stressed the importance of the Church’s role to strengthen cooperation at all levels, especially regarding the national, regional and continental structures, to promote the interests of all and to face common challenges, with particular attention to the need to promote good governance, because bad governance is often the source of intimidations, violence and conflict in Africa, during and after the elections.
Mgr. Palmer-Buckle underlined that the Church, in her prophetic mission, must continue to speak out against electoral illegality and all forms of malpractices in the conduct of elections. The Church, he noted, has long assumed the role of being the voice that stands in favor of the voiceless. "For this reason, she cannot afford to free herself from this responsibility. We need to talk and defend what is right, even at the risk of our lives", underlined the Archbishop of Accra.
The main objective of the Seminar, whose participants come from 27 African countries, is to provide an opportunity for the Church to share experiences in the field of peace and the promotion of transparent and credible elections in Africa. (L.M.)